The prepared mind
This article is about the importance of communicating only to a prepared mind. It is futile to communicate to an unprepared mind. The soil has to be prepared first before sowing the seed if it has to bear fruit. We have to make sure that the listener's mind has been raised to the desired level of understanding before the message is delivered. If we communicate to an unprepared mind the message could get lost or worse still it could be misunderstood. The timing also is of utmost importance. Preparation applies both to the communicator as well as to the recipient of the communication. You have to prepare your mind as much as prepare the mind of your listener. Let us look at a few real-life situations where preparing the mind is a sine qua non.
Before commencing his studies for the day a student would do well to prepare his mind by performing some kind of ritual. A prayer perhaps, or a few minutes of silence or chanting a mantra. After sufficient practice, the study mood will automatically manifest itself at the end of the ritual. Rituals are powerful in that they can set the mood.
You have to prepare your mind before writing an examination if you want the mind to cooperate with you and allow the memory to function freely. An anxious panicky mind will run helter-skelter in the examination hall. To remain calm yet alert during the examination requires the practice of relaxation months in advance. You cannot pacify an anxious mind with the very same anxious mind in one day just for one occasion. The mind is best pacified through the body. By stilling the body you still the mind. But this conditioning has to be deep enough to be able to help you at the examination hall. It has to be a daily routine.
All of us have a perspective on marriage. But it is mostly borrowed and unconscious. This needs to be brought to the light of awareness and examined because it could very well be a wrong perspective. In this most important relationship, one has to be prepared for a long haul with its many ups and downs. It is like undertaking a journey by ship to a distant land. There will be sunny days, cloudy days, bright days, stormy days, clear days thunder, and lightning. Like a sailor, one has to be prepared to weather all kinds of seas and not jump ship when it springs the slightest leak. Marriage is about communication and requires a mind that is prepared to communicate effectively and listen sympathetically. The prepared mind also enters matrimony with an attitude of: how can I make each other happy.
Bringing another life into this world is a major decision and responsibility. The mind of the mother has to be prepared for successful delivery as well as motherhood. Primarily the carrying mother has to be free from negative emotions. The expectant mother should not be exposed to negative vibrations from other people or situations. A positive atmosphere needs to be created around her. The support of other people is necessary to create such an atmosphere.
Once a child is born the mind of the parents have to be prepared for life-long responsibility. However the children may grow up to be we can never give up on them. The bonding is permanent.
This is an unfortunate word that creates its own mindset. It should preferably not be used, otherwise, an identity will start developing around it. There is no such thing as retirement. We are just leaving behind one role with which we have been associated for long. When we strongly identify with one role and it defines our sense of self and when that role is dropped our sense of self goes along with it and as a consequence a vacuum may be felt within. It is as though someone has abruptly taken away our identity. But instead of filling up this vacuum with another identity, retirement can be a golden opportunity to rediscover one's authentic self. However, one should beware of falling into the trap of redefining the self as a ‘retired’ self. For those in a retireable job, preparation consists of not making work the center of one’s existence but cultivating other interests that one can slip into easily.
The best way to prepare for the afterlife is to lead an exemplary and meritorious life in this lifetime itself.
When communicating with a process-oriented person the best preparation you can do is to become process-oriented yourself. With such people, you start from the beginning and take them slowly to the end. If you assume that they already know the subject and you can begin from the middle and go straight to the heart of the matter you are sorely mistaken. Their thought process is not oriented to meeting you halfway. They like to chew the story bit by bit with great relish, sometimes going back and forth. They are never in a hurry. They simply love the process itself and the end can wait. They live more in the present. They are generally very good conversationalists and people-oriented. You need to have patience with them and be prepared to spend adequate time explaining things and taking them through as slowly as possible. Never be in a hurry. You also have to be mentally prepared to start all over again every time you meet them.
Result-oriented people are just the opposite. They are generally eager to get to the end quickly and don’t like wasting time. You have to come straight to the point. They have no patience with long stories. They just want to get it over with as quickly as possible and go to the next issue on hand. They live more in the future. If you are a process-oriented person and start the story slowly from the beginning they will get visibly perturbed and may abruptly tell you to come to the point. Once you know that the person you are dealing with is result-oriented you can prepare your mind accordingly. To prepare their mind you have to give them a glimpse of the finishing line often before coming back to the beginning.
Talking logic or reason to a person who is emotionally charged is like talking to a part of them that is switched off. By the very nature of life, the emotional mind cannot listen to reason. You cannot hold emotion and reason at the same time in the mind. They operate from different centers. No communication is possible with a person who is bursting at the seams with emotion. You can never prepare their minds. You just have to wait it out. Come back some other day perhaps. An emotional or angry or anxious or worried mind is least prepared to receive any kind of communication. Sometimes talking reason may aggravate the situation.
This one requires patience and perseverance. Teenagers live under peer pressure. Parental pressure has to cross that barrier. Preparing the mind of a teenager requires that the communication be:
long enough — short, pithy, laconic sentences won't do. Stretch the thought out. Be process-oriented.
prolonged enough — it could take days or weeks before the message seeps in. Don’t rush them.
kind enough — authoritarian language will create rebels.
adult enough — treat them like children when the occasion demands. But not when you want to get an important message across.
At school, students have to switch from one subject to another every hour or so even as the residue of the previous subject lingers on. If the teacher could link the previous subject with the new subject for a few minutes the student's mind would have a smooth switchover. Say, the history class is just over. The geography teacher who comes next can continue with history linked to geography for some time and then make a transition to the specific topic on hand. In this way, the student’s mind would be better prepared. A sense of connectivity between different subjects would also be established in the student's mind.
In professional business meetings, only a fully prepared person can make an impact. All facts and figures have to be at the fingertips. All likely questions have to be thought of beforehand. You have to know your audience. Shuffling files, searching for figures, and reading from notes show a lack of preparation. Maintaining eye contact and speaking without referring to any notes is a sign of total preparedness.
Unless we prepare our minds beforehand it would be futile to acquire any kind of knowledge or skill. Knowledge that is given to an unprepared mind will fall on the wrong centers of the mind and go wasted. When we listen to a subject our understanding will depend on which center it falls. That is why the same subject will mean different things to different people. When a subject like love is spoken about, to some love will mean an emotion, others may equate love with romance and sex, the intellectual center will make love abstract, a few may understand love as a feeling of oneness.
When we are excited or anxious or even extremely happy our minds are not prepared to receive many forms of knowledge. To know when not to learn is as important as when to learn.
Only a prepared mind is capable of listening to someone else’s communication. You have to warn your mind not to interrupt the speaker but to give him a full hearing before coming to any conclusion. Otherwise, the natural tendency of the mind is to judge and find loopholes in the other’s viewpoint.